The John McAfee saga was intriguing at first and then exciting when everything got all action-packed. But as McAfee sits in a Guatemalan detention center awaiting his fate, things seem a little sad. It's not necessarily the situation that's sad. McAfee fled Belize so that he wouldn't have to face questioning from police, broke the law when crossing into Guatemala, got caught and now finds himself in an empty room with a couple of laptops and a lot of free time. What's someone who's been basking in the glow of the media spotlight for nearly a month do when he's all alone? He creates his own media spotlight and continues to bask.
At primetime on Sunday night, McAfee posted the first of what we're sure will be many livestreamed speeches followed by a Q&A. It looks like a YouTube confessional, probably because it basically is. About 20 minutes of the total footage is made up of McAfee answering some questions from fans after giving a brief statement that basically amounts to him telling viewers to go read his blog and "the truth." He's pointing specifically to a very strange series of six posts posted by posted by "Harold M. A close friend of Mr McAfee" described as "the archived writing and evidence that Mr McAfee has instructed be released in the event he does not communicate with us in 24 hours." During the other 20 minutes of footage, McAfee appears to have forgotten to turn the camera off, and so we get to watching him pace around the room, read the Internet and smoke cigarettes.
The two glimpses into McAfee's life in a Guatemalan detention center teach us a lot of about the one-time software entrepreneur's state of mind. Throughout the broadcast, he lambastes the media for casting him as this paranoid drug addict, but it's also pretty weird that he has a quasi-anonymous friend adding updates on his blog, as if McAfee weren't able to. Those stand-in posts are bookended, by the way, with McAfee's live broadcast and posts written by McAfee. It's unclear how he would've been off-the-grid, unless he was talking about his maybe-fake heart attack scare.
Around the same time that McAfee hosted his webcast, The New York Times ran a piece by Jeff Wise, the guy who broke the story about McAfee being wanted in Belize. It operates on this hypothesis that McAfee is tearing through journalists and media outlets, refusing to talk to them if he doesn't like their coverage. "As soon as reporters start to think, 'Wait a minute, we're sort of jeopardizing our objectivity and reputation for this guy,' he'll just burn them, and go to the next one," Gizmodo's Joel Johnson, who's been cut off by McAfee, said. "That's what he did to me, that's what he's done to a lot of journalists…"
McAfee must be running out of outlets. Why else would he want he be trying so hard to take the story into his own hands. We expect him to keep the blog posts to keep coming, and we hope we don't have to sit through another fumbled webcast. Actually, we really just hope McAfee gets to go home, so we can all put this story to bed.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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